The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) of Israel movement seeks to use global pressure on Israel force it to change its policies towards Palestinian Arabs. The pressure includes economic and cultural boycotts of Israel and denying any normalization of relations with the Jewish State.

The backers of BDS fall into three general camps. Those that seek to:

  1. Dismantle the Jewish State
  2. Remove all Jews from the West Bank
  3. Remove all Jews from historic Palestine

The first group wants to change the character of Israel by cleansing its ethnicity, while both the second and third groups promote ethnic cleansing the land of Jews themselves.

Dismantling the Jewish State

Many of the founders of the BDS movement despise the nature of the “Jewish State.” They find a system of Jewish preferences (such as automatic citizenship for Jews around the world) and Jewish symbols in the flag and national anthem as the antithesis of democracy and a burden for Israeli Arabs. Their goal is rid Israel of its “Jewishness.”

Some of the prominent supporters of BDS seek to accomplish this goal by forming a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. They seek the “right of return” of millions of Arabs to the region and the removal of all Jewish symbols and privileges in the state. Their goal is to turn Jews into a minority in the country, and to dismantle the Zionist Project.

As stated by Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement:

  • “I am completely and categorically against binationalism because it assumes that there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land.”
  • “A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically….Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
  • “(The one state solution means) a unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.”

There are Jewish anti-Zionist groups that also support this vision including the New Israel Fund. Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish professor and loud Israel-basher has called out his fellow BDS supporters for masking their desire to end the Jewish State, as opposed to their publicly-stated goals of ending the “occupation” of the West Bank.

“I mean we have to be honest, and I loathe the disingenuousness. They don’t want Israel. They think they are being very clever; they call it their three tier. We want the end of the occupation, the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what, what is the result? You know and I know what the result is. There’s no Israel!”

Some pro-Zionists like Caroline Glick also support a one state solution (without Gaza). They do not believe the predictions of Jews becoming a minority in a state without Gaza and without permitting millions of descendants of Palestinian Arabs to move to Israel. The roughly 1.8 million Arabs living in Israel today plus the 2.5 million Arabs in the West Bank would be 2 million people fewer than the 6.5 million Jews living in the region. Israel would remain a democratic and Jewish State.

Removing Jews from the West Bank

A significant portion of the western world considers the goal of removing all Jews from the “West Bank,” a noble goal. They have advanced a notion at the United Nations Security Council (with the approval of the US Obama administration) that “Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law.” With such passage, they have opened legal venues for countries to advance boycotts of products made in the settlements.

The measure unfortunately ignores several important matters:

  • Jews have a legal basis for living east of the Green Line in international law. The 1920 San Remo Agreement and 1922 Mandate of Palestine clearly laid out the rights of Jews to live throughout Palestine. There was no such thing as a “West Bank” which was an artifice of the 1948-9 Israel war of independence. The arbitrary line (which Israel and the Arab states all agreed was NOT a border) has no bearing on where Jews can and cannot live.
  • There is no basis in law for “occupying” disputed territory. While the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine in 1947, the vote did not create the two states. Further, the Arabs rejected the partition, as they sought the entirety of the land. The land east of the Green Line (EGL) remains disputed and subject to various agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, including Oslo II (1995). International law uses the term “occupation” only in relation to a foreign force taking over another country, not disputed land. Lastly, international law forbids seizing additional territory in an offensive action, not as a matter of defense as was the case of Israel defending itself from Jordanian attack in 1967.

Jews have historically lived in the currently disputed lands for thousands of years. The ethnic cleansing of Jews from the region by Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs in 1948-9, and the Arabs subsequent refusal to grant any Jew in the region citizenship or visitation rights to their holy land, does not make such actions either legal or worthy of repetition.

Yet this is the publicly “accepted” face of the BDS movement, backed by the acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas adds fuel to the fire by stating that Israel is a “colonial occupier” that advances an “apartheid regime” in an effort to “ethnically cleanse” the area of Palestinians. All are inflammatory terms to paint Israel as an evil and malicious invader which should be expelled.

Removing Jews from Historic Palestine

For many Arabs and anti-Zionists, the term “colonial occupier” means the entirety of pre-Mandate Palestine, not just the West Bank and Gaza. They view the 1920 and 1922 international laws as fundamentally invalid, as they were made by foreign powers without input from the local Palestinians. As such, Abbas has demanded an apology from the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which served as a basis for the international laws allowing Jews to reestablish a homeland in Palestine.

The popular Palestinian party Hamas, which was elected to 58% of the Palestinian parliament, is defined as a terrorist group by much of the world. Its charter calls for the complete destruction of Israel, as the success of Zionism undermines the supremacy of Islam.

The more “moderate” (only on a relative basis) Palestinian party Fatah also called for a complete destruction of the Jewish state in its constitution until August 2007, when it modified some of its official positions. It did this, as it prepared to launch the global BDS movement in November 2007 to appear as a more reasonable fight against the Jewish state.

Ethnic Cleansing

Ethnic cleansing is not a distinct crime under international law, and there is no precise definition. The United Nations took steps to define “ethnic cleansing” in the aftermath of the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In its interim report it used a definition:

 “… rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.

The final report was more stringent, and limited the term to the use of violence to achieve its goals:

a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.

The BDS actions of the past decade are the latest manifestation of anti-Zionists attempting to destroy the Jewish State after decades of failing to do so militarily, in actions that would clearly have fallen under “ethnic cleansing.”

Today’s BDS movement is attempting to use “force and intimidation” to ethnically cleanse all-or-part of the holy land of Jews, and to cleanse Israel of its Jewish ethnicity.


Related First.One.Through articles:

“Ethnic Cleansing” in Israel and the Israeli Territories

What’s “Outrageous” for the United Nations

Regime Reactions to Israel’s “Apartheid” and “Genocide”

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Related First.One.Through video:

The 1967 “Borders” (Music by the Kinks)

Judea and Samaria (Music by Foo Fighters)

The UN looks to believe the Palestinians (Music by Rod Stewart)

BDS Movement and Christian Persecution (Music by Hovhaness)

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